In the darkness of the shop, Cheyenne began to dream of Gloria’s happiness at seeing her own completed image. She stared at where it sat in the back of the shop, near doors and to the left. The place where, every night before this, she would have begun drilling holes into it with the concrete bit in order to shave off the back third and make it the right size.
Nothing happened, no matter what she imagined about Gloria. The stone’s edges didn’t even soften.
Either she wasn’t summoning enough feeling or Gloria didn’t actually care. Did she need both to happen to make the move? Maybe so, thought Cheyenne.
So now what? Who could benefit from the stone’s new place? Her emotions created a new ache in her center as she worked to figure out what to do. She did not have much time before the tiny woman came back.
At last, she thought of how this corner of the shop was never used. It was like no one even knew it existed. There was one student carver, she realized, who needed his own space. Most of the students claimed a section for themselves with booths where they could do the indoor work with the finer tools and leave things where they needed them. Rasheem had started too late in the quarter and had no booth. Instead, he worked on the periphery of the other students and cleaned up all of his tools each night so his things did not get in anyone’s way.
It occurred to Cheyenne that if she moved the stone, he might see the booth as a place to work.
Keeping his happiness in the front of her mind, Cheyenne pulled up the image of him working in the place where her stone sat. She saw the concrete floor empty of projects and his face when he realized he could leave his gargoyle project out rather than hauling it to the side each day.
The stone instantly shimmered and broke into those tiny pieces like the keys had done years ago. The parts then flew up and to the floor under the concrete drills where they lay on their shelves at the side of the workshop. For just a moment—so fast she thought she must have imagined it—she thought she saw the form of a woman inside the particles in the air above. This figure looked nothing like Gloria. She was standing and, for an instant, Cheyenne saw the image looking straight at her. She shook her head, wondering if ghosts could lose their sanity.
In any case, when the stone reassembled, Cheyenne knew Leila would not be able to get a dolly to it without dismantling the shelves first. That sort of activity was bound to attract Vladimir’s attention long before the thief got her job done.
Good, thought Cheyenne. That’s good. More exhausted from the effort with the stone than she had been from the keys, she curled up around the stone that still shivered a bit in the air after the move. Her fingers itched to work on Gloria but that couldn’t be helped. The stone would not be carved tonight.
The lights switched on when the instructor came back in, his keys jangling before he tucked them back into his pocket. Only then—at 6:30 in the morning–did Cheyenne believe that Leila was not coming.
Rasheem walked in with Mr. Thomas, as usual. The tall young student was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. Cheyenne watched him with curiosity as he walked toward the spot where her stone used to sit, hoping to see the joy she had imagined on his face.
Instead of moving into the booth the ghost had cleared for him, he paused at the shelving, leaning down.
“Mr. Thomas?” he asked. His calloused brown fingers rested almost reverently on the stone. Cheyenne’s stone. This was not going as she had hoped. Not at all.